Another year of zero tax increase possible as budgeting gets underway

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Wouldn’t it be nice if Mother Nature sent us some more New England snow sometime this winter? Please, Mother, cloak our town in a nice white blanket, making it look fresh and clean. Wipe away this last year, and usher us in a brand-new New Year complete with a successful vaccination program and the end of the COVID-crisis era. We need a break after what you gave us this past year, so please, Mother, please? A little more snow, and a lot less catastrophe. Meanwhile …

Budget work is underway for another year with ‘no tax increase.’ No promises yet, but the Boards of Education, Selectmen and Finance are focused on building a budget that does not increase the taxpayer mill rate for the second year in a row. The long-term planning model assumes operating costs to the town will still go up due to employment contracts, insurances and the escalating cost of goods that we all are seeing during this pandemic era. However, debt service payments are going down and Granby has reserves that can be used to help keep the tax rate flat, barring significant changes in monies expected from the State. The three boards are sharing information and planning to hold budget review meetings in March to finalize the budget presentation on April 12 and Town Budget Vote on April 26.

The Board of Selectmen (BOS) again adopts the Governor’s “Low Interest Rate Program.” For taxes due January 1 thru April 1, the BOS adopted the Executive Order 9R elective granting all taxpayers an additional 90 days to make tax payments subject to only a 3 percent annual interest rate, versus the standard 18 percent rate for late payments. This applies to both real estate and personal property (motor vehicle) taxes, and is open to all Granby taxpayers, individuals and businesses. There is no requirement of proof of “significant economic impacts by COVID-19” or other requirements. This is the same program that Granby used to help residents with paying their summer 2020 taxes.

State is interested in preserving Prime Agricultural Soils on the 107 East Street property. The BOS tabled for further review an offer from the State to purchase some or all development rights on the former Evonsion property. Selling the development rights would prohibit non-agricultural uses, and so would limit what the town could do on the property in the future. The BOS recently affirmed that the land was purchased for the future needs of the town. However in the discussion they agreed it was worth reviewing to see if certain parts of the property with prime soils could be preserved for agriculture in this manner, while allowing future town uses in other sections.

Holcomb Farm improvements will use STEAP grant:The state approved a $128,205 STEAP grant for improving both the farmhouse and main barn, to be matched by using local funds. This will address the failing paint and exterior condition of the highly visible farmhouse on Simsbury Road, and also upgrade the public rest rooms in the main barn to support large special events/weddings and become ADA compliant. The planned small public playground updates at Salmon Brook Park will be delayed so Granby can match the state funds.

State plans to work on Intersection of Routes 10/202, Route 20 and Route 189 continue: The state is moving forward to gain the town’s approval to sell them some relatively small slivers of land around the major town intersection. This includes about 3,500 square feet of the town green, and smaller areas of three other roadside properties, so the roads can be widened and turning lanes added. Two Public Hearings have been held, and the BOS and BOF have indicated approval of the sale. Per our Town Charter, a town meeting will have to approve the final sale, as with any town property.

Be safe and well, and enjoy any snow we get. Jim Lofink